The questions with which these essays are concerned are all aspects of a conflict between two basic principles that are enshrined in uneasy juxtaposition in the UN Charter of 1945. On the one hand there is the prohibition of the use of force against ‘the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’, and of UN intervention ‘in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any State’ (Articles 2(4) and 2(7) respectively). On the other hand it is stated that ‘All members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action’ in cooperation with the UN to promote ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights’ (Articles 55, 56). These two principles, at least in their present form, are of relatively recent origin. That rights, including the right to legislate and to administer justice without interference from outside their borders, belong to ‘states’ as such is a notion which first emerged in the eighteenth century (for example by de Vattel, 1758); that certain rights (now called human rights) belong to every person by virtue simply of membership of the human race, and that there is a universal obligation to ensure that these rights are respected, is a principle first articulated in the seventeenth century by Hugo Grotius and John Locke.
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